New science recommendations identify failures in current science education.

A report released July 19 by the National Research Council proposes a new framework for K-12 science education that emphasizes deep understanding of key topics and practices, and proposes that K-12 science education be built in three dimensions: core ideas, cross-cutting concepts relevant across disciplines, and key practices.

The framework will serve as a foundation for new K-12 science education standards in response to demand for more U.S. workers in science fields.

The report identifies failures in current science education that result in too few U.S. workers with strong scientific backgrounds and too many who lack basic scientific knowledge. In particular, the report criticizes disorganization over multiple years of school, preoccupation with breadth over depth, and a lack of student engagement as crippling to science education.

The authoring committee says it wants science education to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, students have an appreciation for the wonder of science, sufficient knowledge to engage in scientific discussion, and skills required for careers in science, technology, and engineering.

“The report has provided a new, more coherent, and connected way to look at science education in K-12 by bringing together discipline and scientific elements,” said Francis Eberle, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association. “We’ve always known about them, but they’ve created a framework for how they hold together.”